LESS is a recently completed work at Dairy Road in Canberra designed by Chilean art and architecture studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen. An intentionally ambiguous structure, LESS will contribute to the evolving social landscape at Dairy Road by providing a landmark and gathering place. Avoiding a deterministic or transactional approach to use and presence, LESS invites the evolving community to interact with and occupy its varied spaces as they see fit.
Part public art work, part public space, LESS consists of 36 concrete columns and a circular ramp that leads to a view- ing platform. A small, continuous and shallow stream runs through and down the structure’s columns, pooling, running and returning.
The ground surrounding LESS is populated with 6,000 individual plants of over 50 different plant species, many of which are endemic to Canberra. As these plants grow, the site will trans- form from its most recent concrete and industrial history to a softer landscape that references its pre-colonial ancestor. This landscape will change with each season, of which there are six according to the local Ngunnawal calendar, slowly becoming more immersive and equal to the structure that supports it.
Evoking simultaneously a sense of stillness and movement, LESS also hopes to encourage contemplation within an industrial setting undergoing its own process of gradual change. This includes personal contemplation stimulated by the running water, the sound of its lapping and of the wind blowing through the columns; and contemplation of the Dairy Road site viewed from the upper platform, imagining how the neighbourhood might evolve over time.
Less than a structure, an infrastructure. It is an idiosyncratic place that refuses to be called in a single manner, with a single word.
Its form is basic; a square plan with a 2:3 ratio in elevation. Within this format there seems to be a single element repeated without hierarchies. This relentless arrangement can be under- stood as the very rhetoric of structural behaviour (since it not only resists its own weight while transferring to the ground the unpopular effort of supporting the sky). It might also be read as evidence of a kind of fear for not being able to do so.
In its monotonous gesture, in its tedious regularity as much as in its lack of direction, bold columns and slender pillars erode any other function than that of framing every other function. Many events are allowed in unlabelled places.
Pezo von Ellrichshausen
Architect: Pezo von Ellrichshausen (Mauricio Pezo & Sofia von Ellrichshausen)
Collaborators: Fabian Puller, Olga Herrenbrücks, Amelie Bès
Local Architect: Dezignteam
Landscape Architect: Oculus
Construction: Creative Building Services
Material: Reinforced concrete